1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

40 years old ammo catalog: 357 and 44 got downloaded..9mm, 45 and others didn't..why?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by saturno_v, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. saturno_v

    saturno_v Well-Known Member

    Nowdays, in order to get a full power 357 Mag (158 gr. ~700 ft/lb out of a 6.5" revolver) or 44 Mag (240 gr. ~1200 ft/lb out of a 6.5" barrel as well) you have to buy from a niche ammo manufacturers like Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, Corbon, etc...

    The major ammo producers downloaded these 2 rounds significantly..for example, Remington nowdays publishes 535 ft/lb for their 158 gr. 357 Mag (4" barrel) and 741 ft/lb (basically the level of the original 357 Mag!!!) with their 240 gr. 44 Mag loads (4" barrel).

    Otherwise, reading this old manual ballistic figures, nothing substantially change from current offerings for basically all other hangun rounds (9mm, 45, 380 ACP, 38 Special, 38 Super, etc...)

    Why these 2 cartridges got siginficantly dowloaded?? It was because the emergence of the lightweight short barreled revolvers chambered for it?

    If that is the case, why dowloading the cartrdige to fit the firearm? If the 357 Mag and 44 Mag weren't designed to fit snubnose revolver maybe we should not build them rather than penalizing the rounds.

    What is the point of carrying a pocket 357 Mag revolver if in reality is loaded at about 45 ACP +P levels? Just to say that you carry a 357?

    Thoughts and opinions?

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  2. LawofThirds

    LawofThirds Well-Known Member

    Maybe because there are a) guns that are chambered in said calibers that are not up to dealing with a max load and b) why make a new .357 caliber round between .38 and .357 magnum when you've got 18,000 psi to play with between .38 and .357.

    Also, I think it also has alot to do with improved chronographs and a shift of measurement devices. Many of the older loads seem to have been run through 6-18" barrels, modern ones for the most part are run through a 4" ported barrel. Add in more accurate chronographs and all the other little things and we get lower published numbers.

    So there's 4 guesses. 2 for why they would actually be lower powered and 2 for why they only appear to be lower power.
  3. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    The older ammo manufacturers ballistic data was generally taken from a non-vented 11" or longer test barrel and when handguns where used the barrel length was usually 6 to 8-5/8" S&W's for the .44 and .357 magnums. 9mm and .45 acp test barrels where generally 5", same length as the 1911 government, most likely due to required specifications on ammo they sold to the government agencies and military.

    Chronographs cost thousands of dollars and a $1000 dollars 40 years ago was worth a heck of a lot more and took a lot more work to make than it does today. Average income for a family of 4 in 1970 was around $8K per year so no one other than the major manufacturers had them. To put it into perspective the first non kit PC sold was in 1977.

    Once affordable personal chronographs become available to the general reloading and shooting public in the late 80's people noticed that they where not getting the velocities published from their revolvers. The manufacturers responded by making more realistic tests using vented test barrels of 4" length,to simulate the revolver cylinder/barrel gap and the most common barrel length.

    If you take modern ammo and run it though equivalent length or type barrels you will find the ballistic results are basically the same as it was 40 years ago.

    Big numbers are a marketing technique. People like to think things are powerful and in most cases ignorance is bliss and reality just deflates their imaginations. People cursed the 90 mph speedometers because they thought the cars became slower but put a 150 mph speedometer on a car that reads 100 when you are actually doing 90 and people are much happier.
  4. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Well-Known Member

    This is some of why a Re-Loading Press ( and 'old' Manuals ) should be appreciated and cherished.

    Similarly, occasions of finding genuinely old full Factory Boxes of specific Ammunition, made during those periods prior to being downloaded...


    I think also, that long ago, 9mm Luger Cartridge pretty well presumed the Luger Pistol to be the Arm for the Cartridge...and, as other lighter makes came into prominance, Loading Tables for 9mm got milder.
  5. saturno_v

    saturno_v Well-Known Member


    I think that if a firearm is built for a specific round, it should be capable to fire that cartridge at full specs without problems IMHO...to me it doesn't make sense to build a 357 Mag revolver that cannot take a steady diet of full power 357 loads...


    The old ammo manual I have (1965) mention the tested barrel length for each caliber and for the 357 Mag and the 44 Mag that length is 6.5"

    Furthermore, not only the semiauto pistol cartridges (380 ACP, 9mm, 45 ACP, etc..) figures in that old manual are the same as the current offering but even the other revolver cartridges (38 Special, 44 Special, 45 Long Colt, etc..) are spot on with the modern numbers...the significant discrepancy seeems to affect only the 357 Mag and the 44 Mag...

    For example, the old 1965 data for the 158 gr. 38 Special (6") is 230 ft/lb, the 246 gr. 44 Special (6.5") is 321 ft/lb and for the 255 gr. 45 Colt (6") is 422 ft/lb, more or less like the current numbers.

    I also did check few popular rifle cartridges data (all tested in a 24" barrel, 26" for Weatherby rounds according to the manual) and it is basically equivalent with current published data.

    Finally, Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, Corbon and others can get the original old figures from regular revolver barrels within SAAMI pressure specs......to me that is good evidence that the 357 and 44 Mag have been effectively downloaded in recent times.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  6. LawofThirds

    LawofThirds Well-Known Member

    I'm not saying I agree with a gun that won't run the caliber listed on the side, I'm saying that there have been less than scrupulous companies that have done exactly that. Even S&W has had issues with their model 19.

    All the info I could find with a quick google search seemed to indicate a 4" ported barrel for all the chrono numbers. That means there is a 63% longer barrel on the old tests, which especially in a magnum round which can take advantage of the long barrel with a slower burning powder, should account for the discrepancies. Maybe BB, DT and Corbon are producing those numbers not because factory ammo is downloaded, but rather because they are at the bleeding edge of pressure vs power research. I would say instead of the old loads being stronger, we have better, more powerful powder that produces lower pressure peaks now and only the companies you've named are taking full advantage of those loads. Hornady has recently followed suite with their specialty rifle cartridges that are getting 100-200fps more than old loads without changing their operating pressures. More proof of this advance can be found in the other loads that double tap and buffalo bore offer. Look at what they're getting out of a +p .38 or a .45.
  7. ljnowell

    ljnowell Well-Known Member

    I think that alot of it comes with the ultra light unobtanium revolvers you see nowadays all over. People cant, or wont, shoot actual full house loads through them, and some shouldnt. Its a trade-off.
  8. nalioth

    nalioth Well-Known Member

    This thread makes no sense, starting with the title.
  9. saturno_v

    saturno_v Well-Known Member

    What is so hard for you to understand Nalioth?? It's English you know...
  10. tipoc

    tipoc Well-Known Member


    Which catalog do you have? From which manufacturer?

    In the late 1970s and early 80s there was a push on for the ammo manufacturers to standardize the barrel lengths and types of barrels that they tested their ammo from. Also they tended to fudge upward a bit. This accounts for some of the difference. The difference was more appearant in the newer faster rounds than in the older. This was for obvious reasons.

    In the early 80s ammo manufacturers who also published reloading catalogs deliberately backed off the higher velocity hotter loads for their reloading catalogs by about 10%. This was because of litigation. Seems some folks who reloaded started with the hottest loads with maybe an extra gr. or so of powder and blew up their guns. Some promptly turned around and sued the publishers of the catalogs. One response was to back off a tad from the hottest loads in the manuals. They did the same with their factory ammo. They down loaded it some.

    Well maybe but that has never been the case. In the 1960s if a fella shot 200 rounds of 38 Spl. and 10 rounds of .357 through his .357 once a month that was a lot of shooting. Guns were built for that. Nowdays that is not so much and a fella may put 100 rounds of .357 through his gun in a week. The older guns were not built for that.

  11. saturno_v

    saturno_v Well-Known Member

    Tipoc, the Catalog is the Italian Bolaffi, year 1965.

    Bolaffi is the Italian firearm bible (yearly editions)

    The ammo brand were Winchester, Western, Remington, Peters, Weatherby, Norma, Federal, RWS, Sako and Fiocchi.

    Again, basically any cartridge I did check othar then 357 Mag and 44 Mag showed comparable numbers to modern publications

    Why people were shooting less 40 years ago?

    I don't know in the US (I moved in Northamerica at the end of the 1990s) but in Italy, shooting was actually more popular in the past than now.
  12. NMGonzo

    NMGonzo Well-Known Member

    My Ruger can handle it.
  13. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    I think there may be a lot of reasons for the changes. First off, it's hard to download a cartridge like a .45ACP or 9mm because they already are a low pressure round. Take 300 fps off a standard .45 or 9mm round and you ain't got much left. Take 300 fps off from a max SAAMI .357 or .44 and most won't know the difference. Now if this saves the manufacturer 3 grs. of powder on every shell and they produce 100,000,000 shells a year, this can be a very profitable venture. Even tho most guns chambered in .357 and .44 are capable of handling legitimate max loads....most shooters aren't. Most that shoot the high priced powerhouse niche loads will tell you that standard winnie's and remmie's are much more pleasant at the range to shoot.......and most of the time more accurate. I think ammo manufacturers know this too and put the majority of their ammo into power ranges that the majority of the people that buy factory ammo want it. Must be why it's so much cheaper than Buffalo Bore and Corbon. Lastly, there's really no legitimate reason to shoot max loaded cartridges everytime you go to the range or even when hunting. I roll my own and there's not a caliber I load for that I feel the need to load it to max SAAMI specs. My most accurate loads in all the calibers I load for are well below max.....this includes .357 and .44. With today's modern firearms, if I feel that the .357 or .44 I'm using is not powerful enough, instead of loading it to max or beyond....I just use a bigger gun. There was a time, when this was not an option.
  14. unspellable

    unspellable Well-Known Member

    Some disconnected observations

    The 357 Magnum's original published velocity was from an 8-3/8 inch test barrel. Switch to a 4 or 5 inch vented barrel and it drops.

    The 44 Special was always underloaded from day one.

    45 Colt retains its original performance because that was geared to the original edition of the Colt SAA which was not a strong gun, having thin chamber walls made out of 1873 steel.

    A S&W Model 29 firing a steady diet of full house loads will go loose. One of the reasons it did poorly in silhouette and resulting in S&W making some changes although they did not see fit to fix its weakest point.

    The S&W Model 19 was never really intended for a steady diet of full house loads, it was meant as a holster gun not to be shot that often.

    The S&W 22 Jet revolver never got any where near its published velocity.

    The 458 Winchester generally didn't live up to its published velocity.

    Improvements in powder allowed a considerable upgrade in the performance of the 30-30, but the same improvements were nut fully utilized in the 32 Special so it lost much of its performance edge over the 30-30. Today's 32 S[pecial has to be viewed as underloaded.

    Winchester 30 Luger is advertised as producing 1220 fps from a 4.5 inch barrel. You will never see anything close to that velocity, even from a 6 inch barrel, and the extra 1.5 inches helps it a lot. Fiocchi's is even wimpier.

    I'm inclined to agree that today's 357 and 44 Magnum and 10 mm factory loads are not as hot as they once were. I chrono'ed some Mag Tech 44 Mag loads from a six inch barreled revolver and they left the muzzle at a pretty leisurely pace.
  15. DWFan

    DWFan Well-Known Member

    (1) Full house loads damaged guns. That is not in the best interest of the major revolver makers, (one in particular). Far easier (and profitable) to download the cartridge than design, retool and market a capable weapon.
    (2) Magnums still have the "aura" of power, even when loaded to Special levels due to the name.
    (3) Autoloaders became "the" handgun; but would they have if they had to admit they barely have more power than an original .38 Special +P? The Magnums had to be downloaded first before the new "whiz-bang" cartridges could claim to equal them.
    (4) Few shooters are capable of tolerating, or accurately shooting, full-house loads; especially the .44. The FBI couldn't handle the 10mm so the .40 S&W was invented. Hollywood shows Clint Eastwood shoot a .44 Magnum accurately with one hand (or better yet, James Caan with a .454 Casull) and people think it's easy. It isn't.
  16. Action_Can_Do

    Action_Can_Do Well-Known Member

    I've wondered about this myself from time to time. It's not just exaggerated factory claims either. Modern magnum ammo just isn't as hot. It's the same with modern reloads. The guns are supposedly stronger than ever, yet the reloading data keeps suggesting weaker and weaker loads as maximum. 22 grains of 2400 used to be a middle of the road load for the 44 magnum. Most manuals now list it as above maximum pressure.
  17. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    What is the point of carrying a pocket 357 Mag revolver if in reality is loaded at about 45 ACP +P levels? Just to say that you carry a 357?

    How long do you think those 357 J frames would last with full power loads? the 357 was designed with the N frame in mind, then came the Ks, and now the Js. Current factory 357s have a lot more power than any 38 load, don't beat the gun up, and have a respectable record in SD shootings. You don't need to be ready to take on a rhino all the time.
  18. huntsman

    huntsman Well-Known Member

    So faulty equipment and slick marketing are the reasons?

    If a particular model can't handle the load they should have just stuck with .38spl

    It seems like the old bait and switch to me, but I think the ammo companies are pulling a fast one with the promo or target loads so nothing surprises me anymore.
  19. tipoc

    tipoc Well-Known Member

    In 1970 the U.S. was still a nation of wheelgunners. It was not until the late 1980s that the transition to semis really picked up steam here. With the latter came an increase in the volume of ammo shot. This transferred to revolvers as well.

    Sometimes folks romanticize the fps drop off from the older loads to the newer. At most it was maybe 100 fps or so. And this only for certain loads, usually the hottest. This actually took place in the 1980s or 90s folks have been grousing about it for that long.

  20. JohnBT

    JohnBT Well-Known Member

    We shot less 40 and 50 years ago because ammo was EXPENSIVE.

    I think it's still cheap now compared to then, when compared to income back then.

    I feel sorry for the youngsters who think that the decade or so we had of dirt-cheap ammo is the norm.


Share This Page